By GORD YOUNG, The Nugget
NORTH BAY - Liberal leadership candidate David Bertschi wants to see young Canadians afforded the same opportunities for success that were available to him while growing up.
Despite the challenges of being raised by a single mother and coming from the “wrong side of the tracks,” Bertschi, who made a stop in North Bay Friday, said he was able get a good education and a job that allowed him to purchase a home five years after graduating, as well as pay off the debt related to his schooling over time.
“Most Canadians cannot afford that anymore. The opportunities aren’t available anymore. And that’s a concern,” said Bertschi, who met with local Liberals at Demarco’s Confectionary.
Part of a swing through the North, including stops in Thunder Bay, Kenora and Sudbury, Bertschi’s visit with a small group in an informal setting was in keeping with the grassroots approach of his campaign.
“Small venues enable you to talk to people and listen to people,” he said, noting such meetings allow him to walk away with a real understanding of the issues.
In Northern Ontario, for instance, Bertschi, a lawyer who represents the riding of Ottawa-Orleans, said he’s heard complaints that gas prices are through the roof, noting residents want a some sort of rebate at the pump or better roads.
“They want value for their money,” he said, adding Northern development is also a critical issue. “We have to strengthen our regional agencies to ensure that people in the North get value and that we promote education, employment, value added resources . . .”
Bertschi pointed to the Ring of Fire chromite deposit near James Bay, suggesting companies need to be encouraged through partnerhips and incentives to build refineries and processing and manufacturing plants in order to create employment and better prices for Canadians.
He said the Liberals lost ground in places like Northern Ontario during the last federal election because they allowed the opposition parties to frame them, their leader and their policies as they wanted.
“We have to get our message out cleanly, clearly, and we have to back it up with practical policies that are real world,” said Bertschi.